Why I'm Not for Alissa Roston
When we see professional fliers from a candidate who speaks well at a forum, we tend to think we should vote for that candidate. But the problem is that we still do not have enough information about that candidate who may have been schooled by professionals as to what to say, how to manipulate voters, or who may be dishonest. So what we have to do is ask around and investigate that candidate’s history and find out who is behind the candidate.
About Honesty and Cheval Blanc
Months ago before the vote on Cheval Blanc, a few of us met with Alissa Roston. She was in favor of Cheval Blanc and two of us definitely weren’t, so the idea was for both sides to get together and see if we could make each other understand our respective positions.
I wasn’t anxious to meet Alissa because I had seen her name a number of times as an endorser of over-sized non code-compliant building projects. But I agreed to meet.
At our meeting Alissa was clueless as to why we thought the proposed Cheval Blanc Hotel was massive. To her it was fine—no big deal. We explained how nice and pleasant and walkable the mainly low-rise village was and that we wanted to keep it that way. She explained that her background was in finance, and so was focused on the money.
But now that Alissa is seeking votes from both sides of the Cheval Blanc issue, she is claiming that she agonized over how to vote on Cheval Blanc up until the last day, because it was massive, the traffic and parking impacts, and the alley closure. If she agonized over anything, it was more likely about what she would say to try to get people from both sides of the issue to vote for her.
The Judie Fenton Connection
As I have explained before, Judie Fenton is a longtime developer lobbyist who ran the campaigns of Julian Gold and Lester Friedman. Fenton's methods included using unethical photos of candidates with uniformed police and fire personnel, in violation of the intent of the Government Code, fake voter guides, and even a mailer directed to Republicans which made it seem like Lester Friedman was a Republican. In addition, many unauthorized campaign signs were placed, especially around Judie Fenton’s home, which had to be removed by businesses and others.
Following their election to the council, Gold and Friedman approved One Beverly Hills, the dual skyscraper development project advanced by the Hilton developer and Fenton’s long time client. Neither Gold nor Friedman requested any changes to the project or required the developer to comply with the 10% affordable housing requirement with which all new housing projects in Beverly Hills must comply.
Judie Fenton has two council campaign signs in front of her home, one for Roston and one for Wells. But curiously, Fenton is not shown as an endorser at the website of Roston who at this point is just showing about 4 endorsers. In this manner it is harder to trace whose footsteps Roston intends to follow.
Roston's Other Endorsers and Unethical Acceptance
of Firefighters' Endorsement
Alissa Roston has been endorsed by the West Hollywood Beverly Hills Democratic Club which seems to be populated by board members who, like her, always favor large non-code compliant building projects in Beverly Hills. And being a Democrat alone, in and of itself, does not imbue anyone with superior knowledge or the qualifications to determine who should be elected to a non-partisan Beverly Hills city council position.
Both Alissa Roston and Mary Wells accepted endorsements from the Beverly Hills Firefighter’s Association believed to have been arranged by Judie Fenton. The acceptance of endorsements from public safety unions creates a conflict of interest since if the candidate is elected, she will be negotiating with the firefighters. Yet Alissa and Mary secured the endorsements and allowed firefighters to get a jump on negotiations with council by no doubt promising in advance to invest more in firefighters.
More ethical people, such as Council Member John Mirisch, and council candidate Craig Corman, do not accept endorsements from public safety unions due to the stated conflict of interest. Although we appreciate our excellent firefighters, they do not live here and do not share all of our same interests. So they should butt out of our council elections and should not attempt to improperly skew negotiations with our council.
Alissa’s Service on the Board of Education
Alissa served on the Board of Education about 20 years ago from 1999 to 2007. In fact three of the present council candidates served on the Board of Education around that time, Myra Demeter having served from 2001 to 2009, and Nooshin Meshkaty having served from 2005 to 2009.
Roston, Demeter, and Meshkaty were all on the Board in 2006 when they were wined, dined, and duped by Karen Christiansen whom they carelessly approved to be a school construction consultant without investigating her.
They failed to determine that Christiansen was self-dealing and allowed her to persuade the Board to approve a school bond, Measure E, for $334M. But due to their poor judgment and a failure to oversee, our school system lost millions of dollars, litigation ensued, and ultimately a criminal prosecution was brought against Christiansen. Christiansen ended up being sentenced to 4 years in prison.
During the terms of Roston, Demeter, and Meshkaty on the School Board, test scores went down, debt went up, teacher pay went down, resident involvement went down, less people moved into the city for our schools, and more residents began to enroll their children in private schools. Myra and Nooshin attempted to cover up the problem by pushing through opportunity permits and accepting children from outside of Beverly Hills, but the permits were not distributed randomly or fairly.
Roston has been described by others who were familiar with her service on the School Board in very unflattering terms as not being honest, not making much effort, and not making intelligent decisions. Ultimately she lost re-election to Brian Goldberg.
Despite their poor performances on the Board of Education, and the Christiansen scandal which ensued and impaired our district’s reputation, Roston, Demeter, and Meshkaty now think they should be elected to city council.
About Alissa’s Financial Judgment
Although Roston likes to portray herself as a finance guru, another time she did not investigate and did not make the best business decision was when it came to investing with Bruce Cole, who turned out to be a conman pushing an artificial sweetener. According to internet reports, Roston acted as treasurer for his company, and despite her failure to properly investigate Cole, she pitched his brand, and invested and ended up losing $4M.
Alissa’s Position and Knowledge on Development
Alissa Roston has been campaigning now for months. However she has not bothered to learn much about the mixed use ordinance or the state density bonus program. Nevertheless she makes statements about them which are incorrect. She explained to one group of residents that the mixed use overlay zone extends eastward on Wilshire from Rexford to where the city ends, In fact the mixed use overlay zone also runs west of Rexford, along Robertson, and along parts of Santa Monica Boulevard, Doheny, Olympic, LaCienega, and San Vicente.
Roston has stated that she is in favor of the mixed use overlay zone, but what she wants to fight is having 23 tall buildings on Wilshire. However, she is unable to explain how she would fight that. If she had taken time to learn about the state density bonus program, which applies to all properties zoned for multi-family housing or mixed use, she would understand that the only way to fight tall buildings would be to rezone property back to commercial zoning with a 3 story height limit.
Alissa has explained that due to the housing mandate, she is in favor of 7 story buildings in the central parts of the city, and 18 story buildings along our city’s borders if not next to residents. She does not appear to understand that we do not have to build such buildings—we only have to show the state that we would allow sufficient housing to be built in places where such housing is likely to be built. In any event, 7 stories is too high near residential housing, and 18 stories is too high for anywhere in our city.
I provided Roston with ample documents on a case against the city regarding city owned land on Foothill Road between 3rd Street and Alden, including the dog park. The city had falsely claimed that this land was surplus land and not needed for city use. In fact, the land was not surplus by legal definition because it was and is being used by the city, and is planned to be used by the city in the future. Despite these facts which were repeated in numerous legal papers provided to Roston, she refers to the Foothill property which houses the dog park, a city tow yard and public works storage, as “surplus land where affordable housing can be built”.